A few words

Liana from Finding Femme tagged me for a series of questions. Please read her- she’s a lovely lady.

It’s nearly the end of the year. What are your favourite achievements of 2014 so far?

2014 has been a year of journeys and travel to Tasmania for the summer holidays, Fiji for my sister’s wedding, the United States for Mr BG’s pop fests, and interstate for work several times. My logistical skills have been finely honed as a result!

What’s something you don’t do that you wish you did?

I wish I could sew and make my own clothes. I never really got the hang of it when I was at school, and patterns are pretty incomprehensible to me. I can hem, and mend and am a dab hand at sewing buttons, but anything beyond that is a bit scary!
How do you feel about Christmas and other such festivities, like Easter and Halloween?

I love the music of Christmas- except Bing Crosby and Kenny Rogers. It brings back memories of my time in retail, working at Myer, and hearing them both ad nausaeum over the PA. I survived seven Christmases at Myer and while it has left me with a taste for wearing black and the ability to wrap presents, I hate the frenzied shopping that goes with it. My favourite memories of Christmas pre-children are finishing up work on Christmas Eve at Myer, getting the store ready for Stocktake Sale, then adjourning to the Scottish Chiefs Tavern for a drink with my workmates. Now Christmas means spending it in the car to visit everyone in Geelong and Gippsland. It’s lovely to catch up with everyone, but the drive can be tiring.

I really enjoy Halloween, and being of Irish origin, I quite happily claim it as a derivative of Samhain and get away with it! Our neighbourhood block this year organised a trick or treat for the children, with one parent hosting a barbeque and then the children going around the block to each others houses for candy lollies. There was a lovely community feel, we were lucky with it being a warm night as well :).

Easter was always a time of religious significance when I was growing up, and giving something up for Lent was always done. I consider myself happily lapsed, but it is always a time for family. And chocolate. Another thing I discovered about Easter was that in Public Library Land (yes, there is such a thing) it is the busiest time of the year. Easter Tuesday is like Stocktake Sale time in libraries.
What thing does everyone say to you that you’re really tired of?
“It must be great to be a librarian- you get to read all day long!”
“Ballarat’s so far away…” A common excuse I hear from Melbourne peeps :)

What is your favourite creative thing to do and why?
Tell stories- there is a power in words. What I have been doing more though is telling stories through pictures, and taking photos and posting them on Instagram. It is becoming my preferred way to document my life.

What activity has taught you the most about yourself and what did it teach you?
If you had one superpower, what would it be and why would you want that over any others?
A very fast metabolism, so I could eat anything and not put on weight! Either that or the ability to teleport myself to another place with a click of my fingers.

What is your favourite or your most popular blog post?
My favourite posts are my travel posts. I write them on the go and they’re not only an online postcard for my family to read, but they’re a snapshot of what was going through my mind at that time. They are often my most honest and written on the fly, like one I wrote about feeling frustrated with being in Florence and it not matching my expectations. A post I wrote about a Ghost Tour to Aradale was my most popular post for 2014, even though it was written nearly 2 years ago.

What do you like about Ballarat?
Its weather- it has four distinct seasons, which have been a joy to see unfold from my window at work, and from my backyard deck. I love the light, the fresh air, and the fact you are never too far from a cafe serving excellent coffee. This is especially important when it gets cold in winter. I also like the fact Ballarat is taking pride in just more than its history- it is becoming a great place for food and drink. The range of eateries has improved over the last 10 years, since we moved here, and

What’s one truth you know now that you would like to impart on your younger self if you could?

Don’t care about what other people think of you- it’s your life, not theirs. Be responsible- for your health and your happiness.


I am not tagging anyone, but please feel free to answer these questions if you need any inspiration for blog posts. A group of people are blogging on the #blog12daysofxmas tag on Twitter, if you wanting any more holiday reading!

Reestablishing an acquaintance

A workshop in Melbourne today had me taking my old train. I recognised many familiar face amongst the commuters, all bleary eyed and quiet, functioning on auto pilot.

While I would not exchange my current travel to work- a 10 minute walk!- I did enjoy the quiet time of my hour long trip in which I could read or simply look out the window. It was also lovely to catch up with a friend at Mr Tulk for a coffee and chat.

Walking through Crossley Street was also a delight. It was like a reunion with an old school friend- it was essentially the same, with minor changes to make it interesting. I stopped by my favorite store, Blonde Venus to say hello to the beautiful dresses. I couldn’t stay too long as there was a gentleman sitting outside having a coffee from the hole-in-the-wall cafe which had set up shop next door.

2014-11-13 08.30.05Heading around the corner, I was struck by how pretty Bourke Street is at this time of the morning- and there is a Melbournalia store nearby too!

2014-11-13 08.31.00Strolling past Parliament and up to Victoria Parade, I arrived in plenty of time for my workshop which proved to be very informative. Commuting like this can be good for the soul, in small doses :)

The Battle for Ballarat

There is something brewing in Ballarat, not the excellent craft beer, nor is it the upcoming 160th celebrations of the Eureka Rebellion.

The red coats are coming!  #ballarat #sovereignhill

On the last Saturday in November, myself and Mr BG will head to the local primary school to vote in an upcoming State Government Election. We will be inundated with how to vote cards thrust upon us by the party faithful, ensconce ourselves at a cardboard booth and consider who will be our representative for our electorate for the next four years. With any luck, there will be a sausage sizzle.

Election Day in Ballarat

One would think that with an election, it would be the same old story- a few stories about Ballarat being the bastion of democracy, yada yada, the sitting members campaigning, a visit or two from the Premier and Opposition Leader, followed by the election day, with only a few people tuning in to the ABC for updates (cough cough). This year, it’s a little bit different…

In 2013 the boundaries of electorates were changed to allow for a more equitable distribution of votes in each electorate. For the city of Ballarat, this meant that the seats of Ballarat East and Ballarat West were amended and renamed. Ballarat East gained the area of Sebastopol, a traditional bastion of the ALP and was renamed Buninyong. Buninyong requires a 1.6% against the sitting member Geoff Howard for it to be won by a Liberal Candidate. Ballarat West was renamed Wendouree and with the loss of Sebastopol, has technically become a Liberal seat, even though it is held by the ALP. It requires a 0.1% swing to the ALP for it to be retained as a Labor seat.

As a result of the boundary changes, I am living in the most marginal seat in Victoria- so what does that mean?

There is the Battle of the Billboards, with prominent corners having been overtaken with Liberal Blue extolling the virtues of the contesting candidates Craig Coltman for Wendouree and Ben Taylor for Buninyong. Despite council requesting that some billboards be taken down as they do not comply with local planning laws, the billboards remain with a stoush in VCAT imminent. While I am seeing more blue billboards than red in my marginal seat, I am also seeing a LOT of ambulances with very pointed messages on how to vote, or how not to vote.

We have had numerous announcements from the Premier, the Minister for Planning, the Opposition Leader, and a myriad of dignitaries for photo shoots for the local paper, before they scuttle quickly back to Melbourne. Usually the local candidates are standing by their sides, nodding in the appropriate places and often wearing matching yellow vests and hard hats.

We have had the regional launch of the Liberal Party campaign in Ballarat over the weekend- in fact Mr BG thought he pprobably did see Premier Napthine around the corner! which also happened to coincide with the Ballarat Show. It was also another photo opportunity to proclaim more money for the Showgrounds, which desperately need an upgrade. The ALP also factored in a upgrade to Showgrounds facilities in its pledge to upgrade the nearby Eureka Stadium, for it to host AFL matches.

There has been announcements from both major political parties to guarantee the jobs of those workers currently building much needed trains for the Melbourne public transport system. This has come at a good time, as the current Liberal government awarded a tender to a Polish company, thus leaving Alstom the train foundry at risk of closure.

The Civic Hall saga has continued, with the Liberal Government pledging to bring VicRoads headquarters to Ballarat, with the site of the building to be built adjacent to the Civic Hall. As a result, plans for the Hall’s demolition have been placed on hold by the Liberal-dominated Council until the outcome of the election is known.

For the moment, I am sitting back and enjoying the attempts of both parties who are falling over themselves in attempt to woo voters :).




The Book Club

My friend Nardia is a fantastic person. She makes cheese, loves food and she introduced me to her book club, a group of ladies whom she got to know through being a ballet mum (there’s a lot of waiting around involved in being a ballet mum…).  It had been ages since I had been in a book club, way before kids, and it was nice to have a chance to talk about books and reading. I hate to spoil a stereotype, but being a librarian does not mean I sit all day behind a desk and read books, or talk books. I’d like to, but then I’d be out of a job :).

Anyway, we meet on the last Tuesday of the month at a local pub. where the publican graciously allows us the use of one of his rooms and we stay for around 1-2 hours, quaffing wine, or a tea or coffee and “talk books”. Honestly we do, but we also talk about our kids, what’s happening in our lives and trashy TV. Forgive me if I am not more specific, but what is talked about in book club, stays in book club.

This year, we were assigned a genre and we chose a book within that genre. As a result you get to read something you wouldn’t have even thought of picking up at a library or bookstore. It can be a classic like Catcher in the Rye, a popular title, or something a little bit saucy like 50 Shades of Grey- that evening was a hoot!

Some of the ladies buy the book selection at the start of the year, either from our local bookshops or online, or if you come to the book club a little bit late and are not the least organised (*cough cough*) you borrow from your kids, or from the library. My selection for book club this year was The Hunger Games, which saw a great deal of the ladies raid their children’s bookshelves for the title. (As a side note we all enjoyed it- young adult fiction is great fiction!).

For next year we are doing book bingo. Rather than genre, we are selecting a book like A woman writer, An Australian Writer, Something New, or for myself, A Book based upon a True Story. The book group ruled out true crime, so I will have to go for a hunt.

What I  have loved about being in a book club is that usually at the end of the night we ask around the table what else are you reading? This is a great way to get recommendations for further reading- word of mouth is so often the best way to find a good book to read. One my to-read list is Richard Flanagan’s Booker Prize-winning novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North which rated a thumb up from one lady, and I put my two cents in for The Rosie Effect, the sequel to Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project.

Thank you to Nardia for helping me get my reading mojo back!


Thanks to Bookworld for supporting this post.

Final #frockfriday for #Frocktober

My thanks to everyone who has gone on this Frocktober journey with me. My last frock for Frocktober on a Frock Friday no less, was a little black linen dress I bought in Big W in 2000  for $19.*

It is a really plain dress, one which can be dressed up or down. With an A-line cut and V-neck, it’s really flattering and it is a staple of my summer wardrobe. I feel so cool in it, and usually wear a scarf with it to keep the sun off my neck.

While it is the end of Frocktober, I am finding it quite hard to get out of the habit of wearing dresses, especially at work! I am relishing the feel of jeans on the weekend (it was freezing and wet on Saturday!), but I am finding that I am turning first to the dress part of my wardrobe during the week.

One of my friends asked me how many dresses I have- 19 is the magic number. There are a few I would have like to have worn, but sadly they don’t fit me at the moment (“at the moment” being the operative phrase :)).

To those who donated, I thank you most sincerely. With offline pledges, the total raised came to $830. Thank you for your generosity to this cause!


*Mr BG can’t understand how I can remember this type of stuff, when I am constantly forgetting where I have left my keys…

Final frocks- 29-30/31 #Frocktober

It’s been a whirlwind couple of days- the end of the week is Halloween, a school walkathon and the end of Frocktober. It’s been a challenge that I have seen through to the end and I am pretty chuffed with how it’s panned out.

What I wore on Tuesday was a thrifted maxi skirt from Target that looked way better shorter, a cropped cardigan from Modcloth and a tshirt from French Connection- perfect for the spring weather we are having in Ballarat!

Wearing a thrifted skirt #fcuk tee and #modcloth cardigan for #frocktober #everydaystyle #pleasedonate

A photo posted by Steph Cummings (@stephmcg71) on

As of last night I reached my goal of $700. The wonderful peeps at Integrity donated $50 and Wendy, whom I have known for a very long time, donated %52.50. Mr BG came home with $50 cash from the staff at work. One of the staff had done a whip around, after admiring my frocks on Instagram- the penny had dropped when they realised I was doing it for Frocktober– and not just for fun! I also had a pledge from my friend Kate, which brngs my total amount pledged to $783.50!

So today I celebrated with a frock I recently purchased a couple of weeks ago

It’s a vintage frock that I bought in a local shop. I bought it mainly for the fabric, which is a lovely greeny black pattern. The neckline is a bit blah (double breasted buttons?), so it’s been modified slightly (I undid the top buttons!).

Growing up

He likes his hair neat and brushed, his jeans skinny and belted, and his slip on shoes. He is all arms and legs, angles and bones. My days of giving him a a horsey ride on my knees are long gone as his feet touch the floor. He no longer requests a back rub at night time, as he got out of the habit when I went away. He reads his own books and no longer needs a bed time story.

He makes his own breakfast, gets himself dressed for school in the morning, and is usually the first to be ready to head out the door. He headed off to his first school camp yesterday, so excited about hanging out with his friends for a couple of days.


Off to camp

He is growing up, but there is still a need for a mum. He still needs to be reminded to pick up his clothes, wash his hands, have a bath, and tidy his room. I need to nag him about homework and staying off his iPod. He still can’t find anything without calling for me to help him look! He still looks for a cuddle and when no-one is watching, will hold my hand. He still loves to be smothered in kisses when he is in bed.

I miss the little boy he was, but I am looking forward at seeing him grow up into a beautiful young man. I still worry about him getting hurt, but it’s less about bumps and scratches, and more about feelings and self-esteem. I find I am worrying more about both my children as they enter the greater world and leave the safe cocoon of home behind.